Linda Ikeji’s #BirkinGate has important lessons for all of us

Not everyone cares about Linda Ikeji, granted but even you can’t deny that she is a force of human nature. Linda is a perfect case study for several phenomena, the enduring power of gossip and validation, the cult of personality, snatching opportunity when it presents itself. I could go on and on but that’s not why we’re here right now. We are here because for the first time since the saga with Aye Dee, Linda is a victim of her own machinery.

BIRKINGATE: roughly translated, Linda Ikeji bought a pair of Birkin bags, and in usual fashion, gloated on social media.

 

Oh, wait, here’s another one! 😍😍 #Hermes. #Birkin. 😍😍 My second one! 💋

A photo posted by Linda Ikeji (@officiallindaikeji) on

Turns out a lot of people believe the bag is fake, and didn’t hesitate to tell us (and her) so, inundating the blogger’s social media profiles with hundreds of comments mocking her. She retaliated by insulting some accusers, posting more detailed images of the bag explaining how she got the bag (apparently she was on an 8 month wait list, pretty common for lower end Birkins) and generally throwing her wealth in everyone’s faces. Then someone put up a screenshot of a purported Instagram direct message with Hermes where the luxury goods maker (in atrociously bad English) confirmed the bag to be fake.

Here are a few things we can take away from this:

FAKE SPOTTING IS BIG BUSINESS

For as long as there has been ‘high fashion’ there have been fakes, or dupes. Counterfeiting Luxury products from designer labels has become big business that yields nearly a half a billion dollars each year. And as buyers become more savvy, (thanks to social media and people who deride people for carrying fakes) fake spotters have come into high demand. For designer labels, fake spotters help them find and shame high profile celebrities indulging in fakes and raising the demand for the real stuff.

Counterfeiters have also started to hire fake spotters to help them make better dupes that replicate all the hidden details that separate the real thing from nearly identical replicas. So if all y’all screaming in Linda’s mentions are looking for a change of occupation, you’re welcome.

PEOPLE WILL DO (AND PAY) ANYTHING FOR EXCLUSIVITY

Linda’s 13k dollar bag is cheap by Hermes standards. Like really cheap. Hermes Birkin bags go all the way up to 100,000 dollars based on the exclusivity of design, the time you’re willing to wait for your bag and the materials that is used. And Hermes’s Birkin bags are exclusively handmade with a blueprint that is nearly fifty years old. Even Hermes Birkin replicas are pricey. The good replicas usually start at $2ooo dollars. Same for brands like Dolce and Gabbana and Louis Vuitton. So say what you want about Linda, but she definitely is playing in the big leagues now.

HERMES (AND OTHER LUXURY BRANDS) THRIVE ON EXCLUSIVITY

You know why Hermes bags are so expensive? Because they are exclusive. Exclusivity is the watch word of luxury brands and how they stay relevant in fashion. You know you’re getting an almost obscene level of quality, dedication and workmanship not easily accessible to everyone. And that’s fine, because for the prices Hermes, Dolce and Gabbana and Louis Vuitton sell their merchandise, they really don’t need everyone buying their stuff.

FAST FASHION IS KILLING BUSINESS FOR EVERYONE

The internet has made us unable to wait for anything, not even luxury fashion. We want everything, and we want it now. Even Hermes bags. So counterfeiters step in, providing a ‘cheap’ alternative for the millions who feel they are entitled to a Birkin even when they cannot afford it.

But here’s the thing, well made products, like a Hermes bag that can last decades (there’s a 70 year old Birkin bag out there somewhere) come at a steep price. Designers have to spend money to create these beautiful things, a lot of money. This isn’t to mention the time, expertise and knowledge that is put into creating a luxury product. Of course these people have their market. But the problem is that this behaviour also affects young designers struggling to grow their business. Counterfeiters are only interested in profit so they target EVERYONE. And in the end everyone loses but them.

THE ODDS ARE LINDA’S BAG IS REAL

She might not disclose this, but Linda is rich enough to own a personal shopper or at least rich enough to hire one for the duration it takes to buy a Birkin. And even if she didn’t want to, there is John Obayuwana’s Polo Avenue, which deals exclusively in luxury accessories.

Also it’s quite stupid to think that Hermes who forces women with multi-million dollar bank accounts to join a month’s long wait list for one of their bags, would deign to confirm for some random, with a heavily filtered Instagram account, if a generic photo of a Birkin bag is fake or not.

Do better please, everyone (that includes you, Linda).

Do better!

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